Whitlock Might Not Be Ready To Start Season
Righty Garrett Whitlock has shown flashes of brilliance over his first two years with the Red Sox, leading many fans to believe he could become one of their most dependable starting pitchers going forward. The now three-year veteran is set to begin his four-year, $18.7 million contract extension with the Red Sox he signed last season.
However, manager Alex Cora revealed Monday that Whitlock’s season debut might be delayed due to the right hip surgery he had back in September.
“His next bullpen is up and down again,” Cora said via Ian Browne of MLB.com. “He’s throwing the ball well; he’s moving well. Not yet doing PFPs. We’re not concerned. We’ve got a plan. We’ll see where we’re at in the upcoming weeks.
Typical Recovery Time/Process For Hip Surgery
Generally speaking, complete healing after right hip surgery typically takes around six months, after which athletes like Whitlock can return to their sport confidently. The average rehabilitation program usually includes stretching exercises, physical therapy, and rest periods between activities. The goal should be a gradual progression into sports-specific activities while avoiding further aggravation or injury during rehab.
When Can We Expect Whitlock Back?
Thankfully, it looks like Whitlock will not miss significant time due to recovery. Alex Cora feels confident that if Garrett continues on his current trajectory, he should have no trouble getting back onto the mound by the start of the season or not far after.
Cora said, “If he’s not there (for Opening Day), it’s not because he’s hurt or whatever. It’s just the progression of where we’re at, especially moving around. If he’s ready for Opening Day, he’s ready. But if he’s not, he’s not going to lose too much time.”
Whitlock’s Role Going Forward
The team still believes the right-hander has all the talent needed to be a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter at the big league level. After being selected from the Yankees in the 2020 Rule-5 Draft, Whitlock has demonstrated glimpses of dominance. The 26-year-old pitcher boasts a mid-to-high 90’s fastball and an above-average changeup and slider.
In addition, Whitlock has shown excellent control and command of his pitches; it’s just a matter of getting stretched out over 5-6 innings every 5th day. The fact that he has three pitches he can reliably go to gives them confidence he can succeed as a starter going forward.
Why Cautiousness Is Important
Ultimately, the Red Sox should be extra cautious with Whitlock’s injury recovery because he will be an important part of their pitching staff in 2023 and beyond. If they rush him back too soon, he could re-injure himself or suffer long-term damage to his hip that could affect his future.
Having both Bello and Whitlock near the top of the rotation for the foreseeable future is an important part of the Red Sox long-term plans. So it’s best not to mess that up over a few starts to begin the season.
While the right hip surgery has put Whitlock in an uncertain but not concerning position heading into 2023. His recovery process will ultimately determine how much time he misses during spring training and potentially delay his start date for the regular season.
However, I rather have them be more cautious with Garrett than anything else. You can always insert Paxton into the rotation until Whitlock returns and figure it out from there. Overall, I wouldn’t be too concerned going forward.